Talks & Training

Variety in Comics – It’s Not All About Capes and Super-Powers

Are you unsure whether comics are a genre or a medium? Have you heard terms like “graphic novel” and “manga” but aren’t totally sure what they mean? Are you worried about age suitability? Are you concerned that they only appeal to young, “reluctant reader” boys and nobody else? Would you like to read one yourself but aren’t sure where to start? Are you aware that most comics can be also read digitially on a computer, tablet or phone? Is the reading culture in your school so strong that you can afford to ignore the potential of comics to excite and enthuse your students? 

Aimed primarily at librarians and teachers, this course will demystify comics and provide you with a solid base of knowledge and enthusiasm from which to start building on. Comics could play an important part in your whole school literacy plan and a deeper knowledge of what's available out there will only aid you in your attempts to encourage reading for pleasure. 

  • Session 1: American Comics and The Hollywood Factor
  • Session 2: Japanese Manga
  • Session 3: British and European Comics
  • Session 4: Digital Comics


The Visual Literacy of Comics Covers

By looking at a variety of different comics covers from across the decades, Paul will show how the reading of these covers is an almost involuntary act and how comics publishers have been deliberately using less and less wordage on their covers as the years have gone by. Course participants will be encouraged to take part and work as a group as they interpret the imagery and the design of comics covers from the 1960s upto the present day, in an attempt to experience what reading a comic often feels like for a child/teenager. This is a course that can be adapted for students of both English and Art as well as school staff.

  • Session 1: Basic Communication Through Lines and Circles
  • Session 2: Comic Covers that Shout at You!
  • Session 3: The Missing Word Round
  • Session 4: The Demise of Text and The Power of Imagery


The Excelsior Awards

The Excelsior Award (and the Excelsior Award Junior for primary schools) is now the UK’s biggest book award for graphic novels where school students decide the winners. Last year saw over 200 schools take part and thousands of students read the shortlisted books and fill in their Rating Forms. Previous winners have included Black Butler, Star Wars: Blood Ties, Supergirl, Earth 2 and Superman/Wonder Woman.

This course will serve as an ideal introduction to the awards and will show both the impact it can have on your school library, on your reading clubs and how the sheer versatility of these awards makes them an ideal literacy enhancement tool for any librarian, irrespective of experience with comics. It will also show how having two Excelsior Awards (one for 8-11 year olds and one for 11-16 year olds) makes participation the perfect transition experience for students moving from primary to secondary school and an excellent opportunity for collaborative working between secondary schools and their feeder primaries.


Promoting Reading For Pleasure in Schools

Using comics and graphic novels as a starting point to discuss attitudes to reading, this course analyses, in a succinct yet powerful way, how and why we read and the positives that can be had from it. Participants are encouraged to stop thinking of reading as a "school only" activity and to take responsibility for the self-improvement and enhanced attitude to learning that reading for pleasure can bring. This is not a simple lecture and audience participation is an important part of the process.

This works best as a 1 hour presentation to a large number of people, followed by a smaller workshop to discuss the issues raised in greater detail. It is primarily designed for students but can be adapted for school staff. 


Reading Lists (or What To Put In Your Shopping Basket)

Sometimes all people want is some good solid recommendations of what graphic novels they should be buying and/or reading. What’s a classic? What’s regarded as a masterpiece? What non-fiction graphic novels are available? What’s going to impress the Head? What’s going to impress the students? What’s going to get borrowed a lot? What’s currently “hot”?

Using up-to-date, age-appropriate reading lists and looking at previous winners of the Excelsior Awards, you will be able to build up a virtual shopping basket of goodies that will grace any library’s shelves! This is a half-day course that will help librarians and teachers spend their budget wisely.


Self-Discovery Using The ArSc Scale

A course aimed at new school librarians making their way in the world! Or those who’d just appreciate a few tips and a bit of guidance and/or validation!

The ArSc Scale is a light-hearted tool of self-analysis which allows you to clarify what sort of librarian you currently are and what sort of librarian you want to be. Strengths and weaknesses will be analysed (in a non-judgemental way!) and participants will be encouraged to fully analyse their own approach to librarianship, what they personally believe is most important to them, to their students and to their school. Areas covered will be library design, library usage, marketing the library within the school and behaviour management. Everyone belongs somewhere on the ArSc Scale… and there’s no wrong place to be.


 All of the above training courses can be adapted to suit your needs - just ask!